Tidbits of Torah

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Shabbat Parashat Re’eh

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

August 19, 2017- 27 Av 5777

Dear Friends,
How can we respond to the horrific events in Charlottesville? Watching the videos of hundereds of neo-Nazis, KKK, white supremecists, and other hate groups walking through UVA carrying torches and chanting anti-semitic slogans was difficult enough. Reading the letter written by the President of the Reform synagogue in Charlotesville about their experience of holding services on Shabbat morning as the neo-Nazis circled nearby was bone-chilling. What can we say? What can we do? Many of us have been asking ourselves these questions…. No matter what our political affiliation might be, no matter how we judge the responses of our leaders, there are certain things that unite us. I shared my feelings as to the things that must inform and unite us in a Facebook post this week.

I share that same Facebook post with you now:

“No, to racism. No, to anti-semitism. No, to those who would deny basic human dignity and respect to anyone different than themselves. No, to silence. No, to evil. No, to equating those who would deny the humanity of others to those who protest against it. No, to the rise in hate crimes. No!….Yes, to healing. Yes, to love. Yes, to moving forward toward a better future!”
In Ecclesiastes (3:1;7) we read: “A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven:…A time for silence and a time for speaking…” Difficult as it may be, this is not the time for silence. This is the time to speak out. This is not the time to lose hope. It is the time for each one of us to re-double our efforts to bring greater blessing into the world.

And, in our morning services we read Psalm 146. I share with you excerpts of this amazing and uplifting Psalm:
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord all my life,
sing hymns to my God while I exist.
Put not your trust in the great,
in mortal man who cannot save.
His breath departs;
he returns to the dust;
on that day his plans come to nothing.
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is in the Lord his God…
who secures justice for those who are wronged,
given food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free;
The Lord restores sight to the blind;
the Lord makes those who are bent stand straight;
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger;
He gives courage to the orphan and widow…”
Psalm 146 reminds us of the attributes of God that are our guiding light in the world. God seeks to make the world safer. God cares for those who are in need. That is the model for us as well.

Our weekly Torah portion of Re’eh begins with Moses’ reminder to us: God has set before us this day the blessing and the curse. It is up to us to follow God’s lead and to do all that is in our power to bring more blessing into the world.
The United Synagogue and the Rabbinical Assembly have joined with many other Jewish organizations this weekend to take part in “Shabbat Celebrating Unity and Diversity.” We are all encouraged to find those values that unite us even as we celebrate the wonders of our diversity. We are all encouraged to speak with one another and to strengthen our resolve to make our world a better place.
This week, at RST, we have the opportunity to come together on Friday night at 6:30 pm for Barbecue and Barchu, followed by our Friday night service which will be at 7:30 pm. And, on Shabbat morning, we will have the opportunity to celebrate a baby naming! Two wonderful opportunities to celebrate our unity and our diversity, our dedication, and our freedom. I look forward to seeing you soon!

This Shabbat we will also recite the blessing for the upcoming new Jewish month of Elul. Rosh Chodesh Elul will be on Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week. May this month bring us healing, peace, and joy.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gilah Dror